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Lowry Drawings Lead Modern & Contemporary Art Sale

6th March 2024.

A small family collection of three drawings by the great L.S. Lowry (1887-1976) sold for a total hammer price of £67,000 in the Modern and Contemporary Art Sale at Tennants Auctioneers, North Yorkshire on 2nd March. The works were given by Lowry to Ruth and Neville Blakey of Pendle, Lancashire, longstanding friends of the artist. Mr Blakey first met L.S. Lowry in the late 1950s, when the artist took a clock for repair in the Blakey’s business premises and the pair struck up a lasting friendship.

The collection comprised Figures Young and Old, a pencil sketch made in 1969 (sold for £40,000 all figures exclude buyer’s premium), “Group of Children”, a further pencil sketch from 1966 and inscribed verso “To Mr and Mrs Neville Blakey” (sold for £19,000), and Street Scene with Dogs, a biro sketch from 1963 executed on a page in Mr Blakey’s autograph book (sold for £8,000). The autograph book was accompanied by a ledger in which Mr Blakey recounts the pair’s first meetings and notes that “This delightful sketch was drawn in the drawing room He visited us here … and we made return visits on many occasions to his house at Mottram in Longdendale. He was a most kind person…”.

There were strong prices achieved across the rest of the sale, boosted by the numerous bidders that packed the saleroom. Four works by County Durham mining artist Norman Cornish (1919-2014) stood out, achieving prices well above estimate; on offer were ‘Miners Trudging to Work in the Pit Road’ (sold for £3,800), ‘Street with Horse and Cart’ (sold for £1,500), “Troubled Man” (sold for £1,600), and “Pit Road” (sold for £850). A further group of six abstract works by Huddersfield-born David Blackburn (1939-2016) sold well too, with notable lots including “Summer Walk Marsden” (sold for £1,300), and “Across the Viaduct” (sold for £1,400).

Amongst other highlights were the likes of “Wensleydale Near Spennithorne” by Anne Isabella Brooke (1916-2002), which sold for £6,500, and two works by Billie Waters (1896-1979), “The Pink Boat, St Ives” (sold for £2,500), and “Back Gardens, Lelant” (sold for £1,700). A Vivienne Westwood handwoven tapestry of a Union Jack, “VW Flag Mini”, sold for £2,000. This famous Union Jack motif was first provocatively modelled as a bridal stole in the Vivienne Westwood Autumn/Winter 02/03 ‘Anglophilia’ collection.

The sale achieved a total hammer price of £236,490 for the 175 lots, and an 90% sold rate.


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